Publius Scipio came home from his province of Gaul to choose new consuls. The consular comitia were accordingly held, in which Lucius Cornelius Merula and Quintus Minucius Thermus were chosen.
Next day were chosen praetors, Lucius Cornelius Scipio, Marcus Fulvius Nobilior, Caius Scribonius, Marcus Valerius Messala, Lucius Porcius Licinus, and Caius Flaminius. The curule aediles of this year, Caius Atilius Serranus and Lucius Scribonius, first exhibited the Megalesian theatrical games.
At the Roman games, celebrated by these aediles, the senators, for the first time, sat separate from the people, which, as every innovation usually does, gave occasion to various observations.
Some considered this as “an honour, shown at length to that most respectable body, and which ought to have been done long before;” while others contended, that “every addition made to the grandeur of the senate was a diminution of the dignity of the people;
and that all such distinctions as set the orders of the state at a distance from each other, were equally subversive of liberty and concord.
During five hundred and fifty-eight years,” they asserted, “all the spectators had sat promiscuously: what reason then had now occurred, on a sudden, that should make the senators disdain to have the commons intermixed with them in the theatre, or make the rich disdain the poor man as a fellow-spectator?
It was an unprecedented gratification of pride and over-bearing vanity, never even desired, and never instituted, by the senate of any other nation.”
It is said, that even Africanus himself at last became sorry for having proposed that matter in his consulship: so difficult is it to bring people to approve of any alteration of ancient customs; they are always naturally disposed to adhere to old practices, except those which experience evidently condemns.